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State of the Union

Interview with Dutch Ruppersberger, Roy Blunt; Interview with Tom Price, Dick Durbin; Interview With Carlos Gutierrez

Aired November 18, 2012 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: There is no calm after the election storm.

Today the ex-CIA chief says he thought from the start Benghazi was a terrorist attack as old rivals clash anew over Benghazi's aftermath.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Senator McCain, Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: The president of the United States did not tell the American people the truth about the attacks.


CROWLEY: That and the terrifying burst of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. All the headlines (inaudible) whose senate intelligence committee member Roy Blunt and House intelligence ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger.

Then, back away from the fiscal cliff. Can they? A conversation with the number two senate Democrat Dick Durbin and Tom Price, chairman of the House Republican policy committee.

Also, Republican Carlos Gutierrez.


CARLOS GUTIERREZ, FORMER COMMERCE SECRETARY: We must be the party of immigration.


CROWLEY: Our follow-up conversation with a man who led Mitt Romney's outreach to Latinos.

Plus, the politics of scandal with Jackie Calmes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Jerry Seib and CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

I'm Candy Crowley, and this is State of the Union. Good morning from Washington. With all the intrigue of a Bond film, a stealthy General David Petraeus arrived and left Capitol Hill without being seen in public. But behind closed doors they heard him.


REP. PETER KING, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: His testimony today was that from the start he had told us that this was a terrorist attack other terrorists involved from the start. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: It was testimony that seemed to challenge White House explanations of who knew what when about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans.

Joining me is Missouri Senator Roy Blunt and Maryland congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. Thank you both so much for joining us.

Let's just start off with the last point, and that is when you all listened to General Petraeus, was he saying something different than the White House was saying in the days after Benghazi about what it was, what the attack was about?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, when he came before our committee, he said really the same thing that he said September the 14th. I think on September the 14th, though, when you walked away from that hearing, you felt that it was more based on a protest. He did say when he communicated to us, but he felt that there were terrorist involved and there could be an al Qaeda-type link. He then reiterated this at that time.

But there's no question that the impression to the American public was that it was a protest, but at this point that was changed, intelligence evolved, and the administration did state that it was not a protest.

CROWLEY: So at this point we know it was not a protest. We still don't know if it was planned or not. But we know it went on for hours.

The point here for people who may be confused as to why is this all important is that folks on the Republican side believe that the president and his administration deliberately didn't tell the truth about what went on because they were using the storyline in the election that they had all but taken care of al Qaeda and that this seemed to be al Qaeda connected.

Do you believe that?

BLUNT: That seems to be the case for me. I mean, you have this discussion about, well, we have classified material and unclassified material. I think that really -- you have to have a really good reason why you don't give the American people the information you had unless you think you're somehow going to really endanger the people that are in other parts of the world.

I mean, we had the people out of Benghazi that survived that attack on September the 12th. No reason they couldn't have been talked to. This idea for days until somehow we get the surveillance film we, don't really know for sure that there's not a protest. It's clear from the surveillance film there was never a protest. We had people out of there the next day.

It's also clear that there had to be some planning. I mean, the first people are killed really early at the mission, but it's six or seven hours later before the other two people are killed a mile and a half away. That clearly was something that intended to happen. It wasn't seven hours later. People get excited again. We knew that. And we knew that from the very start.

CROWLEY: So, you basically think that it was put out there because they didn't want to have the direct conversation about this being a terrorist attack.

BLUNT: Well, I think until you hear a better explanation that's the only conclusion you could reach.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about the attack itself because we still don't know. Do either one of you feel that you know exactly what happened and who did it?

RUPPERSBERGER: From what I know, and the information that we received, is that the first attack was more of a chaotic type of attack. There didn't seem...

CROWLEY: This is the one that killed the ambassador.

RUPPERSBERGER: The ambassador, who died of smoke inhalation. It wasn't gunfire.

And that at that point that it was more chaotic. Fires were set. You had people looting.

But then seven hours later the attack at the compound was a lot different. That was well organized. You had people who knew how to shoot mortars. There seemed to be command and control. And that was a lot more planning, in my opinion, and they were a lot more effective, And that's when we had our other two Americans who were on the perimeter protecting the citizens.

Remember, we had people from the first attack who worked for the State Department. They were all taken, and their lives were saved thanks to the security, taken to the second compound, and the people who were killed were in the perimeter while they were being put on planes or helicopters or whatever to get them to safety.

BLUNT: And Candy, I think Dutch and I saw the same compilation of surveillance video. Even the first attack, while more chaotic and maybe not as well planned, these are people who suddenly get through the gate with weapons in most cases, and they start doing bad things from the very first moment. And I would agree totally that the second attack where you had relatively good use of the weapons that had to fire the mortars, precise hits, this is several hours later. Clearly, somebody who knows what they're doing is behind that attack and the first attack, again, was not in any way you could look at it coming out of the spontaneous demonstration because there wasn't was one. CROWLEY: Were there calls for help? Were they denied? Do we know the answer to that? RUPPERSBERGER: Absolutely they were not denied. There was an issue that appeared in the media that when the State Department -- the State Department was at the first location. When they called out for the CIA for help, immediately within, I believe, 20 minutes they were getting their ammunition together, they were getting together, and they did come. And they also received firepower when they got there.

So they almost had to fight their way in. And once they got there, they were able to get all of the people, Americans, to the area of safety at the second location. Other than the ambassador, who decided to stay, and his press person. And he died of smoke inhalation.

CROWLEY: Senator, let me have you pause here a second because I want to take a quick break, and I'll let you answer that on the other side.

But we also want to focus on the Middle East right after this break.


CROWLEY: I'm back with Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and Senator Roy Blunt.

Senator, just the last word, if you will, before we get to the Middle East on whether there were calls for help and whether they were denied. Congressman says no.

BLUNT: Well, I'm not sure yet. And there are really two questions here. One is the level of security at the temporary mission and why it wasn't better. Dutch is -- my understand is exactly right, once people in Benghazi were called, they got there pretty quickly within -- they had left their location within 24 minutes of the call, but my other question would be there was nobody anywhere in the world that we could get there in six or seven hours to save those last two lives and potentially other lives that could have been lost in that attack that occurs hours after the ambassador is killed and the mission statement -- the mission itself has been abandoned to the second facility.


Let me move you on to the Middle East, because tensions, to put it mildly, are high. You have this confrontation between Israel and Hamas over the Gaza, and you have added on to that the Arab Spring, which gave us new leadership in Egypt. How scary is this at this point, how confident are you, that President Mohammed Morsi is going to be a force for good in calming this down?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, the first thing I think clearly Israel has a right to defend itself. And they have to do whatever they have to do to protect their citizens. We have to remember the United States it's as if Washington, D.C. was being attacked from the state of Maryland. So it's very, very serious what's happening there.

I think as far as the Arab Spring, clearly the dynamic has changed. And I think that the United States now is looking to Morsi to use his influence with Hamas to get them to stop shooting the missiles. Hopefully you could take advantage of this negative situation and start talking about peace. History shows that is unlikely at this point.

But Israel has to stand -- protect their citizens at all costs. And you cannot continue to have these rockets sent in. CROWLEY: But President Morsi has his own problems at home, too, in terms of trying to be tough on Hamas, which, after all, is part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestinian sense. Do you think he can be helpful? Has he been helpful?

BLUNT: I don't know that he has. Clearly we've benefited from almost 40 years now of having peace partners between Israel and Egypt even though the Egyptian government never told the people of Egypt how important this was to maintain this peaceful relationship. And we don't have that right now.

I think the prime minister of Egypt -- not Morsi, but the prime minister went to Gaza, high-ranking person went to Gaza last week, met with them. They've expressed all kinds of sympathy. Certainly the senate passed a resolution last week unanimously that's in line with what the congressman just said about the right to defend yourselves. But we've got people who have traditionally been our allies in trying to maintain the peace in Turkey, in Tunisia, in Egypt that now are encouraging the things that clearly will not keep the peace if Hamas is allowed to continue to do what Israel can't, frankly, allow it, Candy, to continue to do.

CROWLEY: Let me add in the other element here, and that's Iran. Is Iran arming Hamas? We know where these weapons are coming in. Iran says they're not. But is there evidence to the contrary, is Iran involved in the arming of Hamas and what seems to be a little bit at least of increased capacity with these missiles coming from Gaza?

BLUNT: Well, they're coming in, and they're getting there from somewhere. My guess is Iran is involved. My guess is there has to be some tacit involvement in Egypt and the border or these things wouldn't be getting in to Gaza. And there's all kinds of public encouragement of what we would consider terrible misdeeds perpetrated on innocent people in Israel coming out of Gaza.

RUPPERSBERGER: I think Iran is a very dangerous country, very dangerous to Israel, to the Middle East and also to the United States. They export terrorism. And they also have the ability to manufacture rockets and missiles.

I have had a conversation with the ambassador to Israel. Clearly the rockets that were sent in are Iranian rockets. They support Hamas. And I think that they're very serious. And by the way, to answer your question, you talked about Morsi. I think a bigger player here is Erdogan, President Erdogan of Turkey. They've become very powerful. They have a lot more influence in the Arab area. And I think Erdogan is going to be a key player if there's going to be any issue of calming down the hostility as it relates to Hamas.

CROWLEY: In the last 20, 30 seconds we have that President Obama as far as we know doing everything he can. Are you satisfied with what the U.S. has said and done so far as regards to...

BLUNT: His statements yesterday I thought they were helpful. They are in line with what the congressman and I have said here today, and I hope we're aggressively pursuing that idea that Israel has a right to protect itself. But people all over the world have a real interest in trying to stop this violence from being initiated by Hamas and Gaza.

CROWLEY: Because the president has also said apparently said apparently, please don't equate Gaza to Israel.

RUPPERSBERGER: I think president after president has always stood behind Israel. We always will. They're our ally there. And we have to do whatever we can help them to protect their citizens.

CROWLEY: Congressman Ruppersberger, Senator Blunt, thank you both so much for being here today.

When we return, solving the financial crisis before it's too late. And, later, the political fall-out of the Benghazi investigation.


CROWLEY: If only for a moment, they seemed like friends.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do want to wish him a happy birthday.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Thank you. Thank you.

OBAMA: We're not going to embarrass him with a cake because we didn't know how many candles were needed.



CROWLEY: The speaker turned 63, but the number that may be resting more in his mind and the president's is 43, the number of days left before the U.S. economy falls off the fiscal cliff.

They are far from a deal, but if you listen carefully, you can hear the faint sounds of compromise. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We're both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Most of my members, I think, without exception, believe that we're in the dilemma we're in not because we tax too little, but because we spend too much.


CROWLEY: OK, maybe it doesn't sound like much, but when congressional leaders left the White House that day, they were talking about getting a deal, if only in the nick of time.


BOEHNER: We can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that is right in front of us today.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We should have a deadline before Christmas.


CROWLEY: High stakes deal-making in the season of goodwill. The possibilities are endless. Not all of them are good. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and the House Republican Policy Committee chairman Tom Price are next.


CROWLEY: Joining me now, Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Tom Price.

Gentlemen, thank you so much. I want to start out by playing two bits of sound from both Speaker Boehner and President Obama on staking out what they would like to see in a deal to get rid of this fiscal cliff.


BOEHNER: Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.

OBAMA: What I'm not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can't afford.


CROWLEY: Gosh, that doesn't sound like you all are anywhere closer to a deal now than you were prior to the election.

Congressman Price, where is there room for compromise here?

PRICE: Well, there certainly is room for negotiation on a real solution, and a real solution includes both revenue increases and spending reductions.

The reason we have concern about what the president has talked about and what my friends on the other side of the aisle have talked about is that it doesn't solve the problem. If we take the president's deal that he has brought to the table, you know how many days that pays for the federal government? Eight days. Not eight months. Not eight weeks. Eight days.

So we need to look at increasing revenue through pro-growth policies as well as tax revenues.

CROWLEY: But not through tax hikes, correct?

PRICE: Tax revenue, which means broadening the base, lowering the rates, closing the loopholes, limiting the deductions, limiting the credits, and making certain that we identify the appropriate spending reductions so that we have, indeed, a balanced approach.

CROWLEY: OK, but we're still at the place where everything gets hung up. No increases in tax rates. That is still the position of House Republicans, correct?

PRICE: Well, again, we would be happy to look at that if it solved the problem. The problem is, it doesn't solve the problem. We want a real solution, which means increasing tax revenue through pro- growth policies.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me just try to get the senator in here.

So the answer is no, they don't want to look at tax rate increases. And, yet, we kind of have the president saying he would veto something that didn't have tax rate increases for the wealthy. Where do we go from here?

DURBIN: Candy, you have got to listen closely, and I have been listening for a long time since I was on the Simpson-Bowles Commission. And what I hear is a perceptible change in rhetoric from the other side, and what it is is an invitation for our side to basically sit down and say, what can we do for this country?

Push the special interest groups to the side for the moment, and what I hear the president saying is, we're not going to solve this by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share, but it will be part of the solution.

And what I hear from the Republican side is, well, what is the rest of the solution? That is the beginning of a negotiation. It's an indication that the election had an impact on all of us. The American people are sick and tired of all the obstruction and all the rhetoric on both sides. And I can tell you that the fiscal cliff is focusing the mind.

We are really trying our best now to at least come up with an understanding of an agreement before the end of the year.

CROWLEY: OK. So we have had -- Senator, let me just stick with you for a second. We've had the president meeting with the top leadership. What is going on now? I mean, we have 40-plus days left before this happens. Who is doing what where?

DURBIN: I think the negotiation is continuing at various levels, but it's between the White House and the congressional leadership. They are sitting down now to try to map out a way to avoid sequestration, the automatic spending cuts that were going to take place over the next 10 years. They're also now going to sit down and talk about the revenue side.

The president has made his position clear. He has called on the House Republicans to pass what we passed in the Senate to protect middle income families. All of those making less than $250,000 a year, take them off the hook and tell them, no, your taxes are not going up. Let's get that done before we leave.

CROWLEY: So, Congressman, are you going to get that done...

DURBIN: So we are moving toward at least I think an agreement.

CROWLEY: Are you going to get that done before you leave?

PRICE: Well, again, if that would solve the problem, we would be happy to look at it. It doesn't make any sense. When I talk to my constituents and folks across this country...

CROWLEY: Can I just -- I'm sorry to interrupt you, but can I just get -- just sort of directly, is that something that you all would do? And it sounds to me like your answer is no, because you don't think it will work. Is that a correct translation of what you are saying?

PRICE: Tax increases to chase ever higher spending is a fool's errand. What we need to do is have that balanced approach that we've all been talking about, which, again, is increasing revenues through a process of tax reform, and then spending reductions.

We've had four straight years of trillion dollar-plus deficits. You can't continue this and have economic vitality, which is what we actually need, Pro-growth policies to get this economy rolling, get jobs created again.

CROWLEY: Senator, again, you're hopeful because you think people have listened to what the American people said. And, yet, I'm not sure I'm hearing it here. Are you hearing it elsewhere in the halls of Congress that, in fact, Republicans will look at specifically the tax -- raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more?

DURBIN: Candy, you have to be careful. If you talk about taxes they run for the hills. But if you talk about revenue and tax reform, they'll sit still for that conversation. I would say to my friend the congressman, he said that sparing the middle income families doesn't solve the problem. Well, it solves the problem for middle income families in America.

What it does say is that when it comes to tax increases, let's go to those who can afford to pay. They should pay a little more. They've been blessed with success. They live in the greatest nation on Earth. Paying a little bit more to solve this national problem, part of the solution, is not unreasonable.

But we do have to cut spending. We do have to look at entitlement reform that doesn't threaten the existence of important programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

CROWLEY: Congressman, let me...

PRICE: I'm pleased to hear that...

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

PRICE: If I may, I'm pleased hear the senator talk about spending reductions, because there haven't been specifics put on the table by the other side. And that's exactly where this negotiation process is right now.

The two sides have identified the tax revenue that we're willing to discuss, and now it's time to talk about the spending reductions, and that's the prescription for moving forward. Because, again, if we pass something that doesn't solve the problem, then the American people are going to be as irritated in the future as they are right now.

CROWLEY: Congressman, let me ask you, have you sensed within the new caucus -- now, it's the old Congress that's going to deal with this between now and the 31st of December, but you have had a chance to see and meet what your new caucus will look like, the majority on the House side.

Do you sense a difference in that group hand than in the group prior to that, which was seen as unwilling to make a deal, sort of more hard-line conservative? Is this new caucus different?

PRICE: Well, I think the difference is that every member of our caucus appreciates that this fiscal crisis, this challenge that we have, is ever closer. And that's why we need to negotiate through this process and make certain we come up with a solution, a real solution, that will actually solve the problem.

Kicking the can further down the road, which is one of the things that we hear out of Washington all the time, will no longer be acceptable to either the American people or to the challenges that we have to get this economy rolling again and get jobs created.

CROWLEY: Senator, there has been some thought on your side as well that perhaps $250,000, that if you could get the House to go along with something, that perhaps $250,000 is too low to be raising taxes, that maybe you could make it a genuine millionaires tax that would be more palatable. What about something like that?

DURBIN: Candy, we're carping on a trifle here. If we want to protect the middle income families, $250,000 income for a family is a reasonable number. To go up to a million, I'm not sure what we're proving with that. There has to be revenue on the table.

And those 2 percent or 1 percent of highest wage earners in America who are doing well should pay a little bit more. And I think most of them that I speak to are willing to do it if they know it's part of an agreement that will generally reduce the deficit.

Keep in mind, our goal here is not just to reduce the deficit and debt, but to spring this economy so that it moves forward creating jobs and expanding businesses. I think that's going to happen if we have this bipartisan agreement.

CROWLEY: Congressman Price...

PRICE: Candy, the...

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

PRICE: Yes. The increased tax rate that the senator just referred to doesn't only hit individuals, it hits nearly a million small businesses, and if we're increasing taxes on small businesses, guess what won't be created? Jobs.

And small businesses are always the linchpin to getting jobs created when we come out of a recession. And so why would we adopt a policy that punishes job creators? Ernst & Young said it would end up in about 700,000 jobs being lost. That doesn't seem like a wise idea.

So, again, we want to solve the problem with real solutions, not just political rhetoric that we have tended to hear on the campaign trail. It's time to get down to work.

CROWLEY: Senator Durbin, the last word is yours. I take it you're going to disagree, this sounds a lot like the arguments I heard before the election...

DURBIN: Candy, it sounds like the...

CROWLEY: ... from you both.

DURBIN: ... debate that you moderated between Governor Romney and President Obama. Ninety-seven percent of small businesses are spared with a $250,000 limit in terms of tax increases.

What we're talking about are people who are making a lot of money, lawyers and investment bankers and those who are in subchapter S corporations on who can pay a little more for goodness sakes, if it means moving the economy forward.

It's time to take these old arguments and set them over here and talk about a new day, a new approach. That's what the election was all about.

CROWLEY: Senator Durbin, Congressman Price, thank you both so much for joining us this morning. Appreciate it.

PRICE: Thanks, Candy. DURBIN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Next, he was chairman of Mitt Romney's Hispanic Steering Committee, but Carlos Gutierrez has some tough talk for his party when it comes to immigration reform.


GUTIERREZ: If we get it wrong, shame on us.



CROWLEY: Eight years ago George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote. This year Mitt Romney won 27 percent. Worrisome to the Republican Party and close to hurtful to Hispanic Republicans.

Carlos Gutierrez, who ran the Romney outreach to Latinos, is putting together a plan that he hopes will begin to reverse the trend. I spoke with him earlier.


GUTIERREZ: We are creating a super PAC. I say we, all Republicans who believe in immigration reform and immigration, with Charlie Spies, who created the largest super PAC for Mitt Romney,

So we're talking about something real and something that can have real influence on outcomes of elections.

CROWLEY: You're looking to back Republicans who support what specifically?

GUTIERREZ: Sure. We want to see a path, a process for legalization of workers who are here undocumented, and there will be...

CROWLEY: A pathway to citizenship or amnesty, whatever you want to call it.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, I mean, but, first they have to be legalized. And then you have to find a way to get into a line for the green card. But the first some sort of legalization for the workers who are here. There will be requirements. And we'll have to negotiate some sort of requirements.

CROWLEY: Let me -- you know what Mitt Romney has said in his loss. He was talking to a group of donors and talking about the Obama campaign, said that he went out and gave a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped would vote for them and motivate them, specifically the African-American community, the Hispanic community, and young people.

He is talking here about his -- about the president's efforts to help those youngsters who came in with undocumented parents. What do you make of that kind of argument? GUTIERREZ: I was shocked. I was shocked. And frankly I don't think that's why the Republicans lost the elections, why we lost the election. I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn't belong.

We are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance. We -- these immigrants who come across and what they do wrong is they risk their lives and they come here and they work because they want to be part of the American dream.

That is what the GOP is.

CROWLEY: And you would admit, though, that your candidate said a lot of things seen as anti-Latino. You yourself said that they fear the Republican Party, and he was the head of it.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, yes. And...

CROWLEY: He failed at that. GUTIERREZ: And that is true. And, you know, the unfortunate part -- and we were just talking about this, I don't know if he understood that he was saying something that was insulting. The language, the attitude, the body language, that's what Latinos watch.

And, by the way, the, you know, Republicans for Immigration Reform is about Hispanics, but it's about Asians, it's about West Africans, it's about Ethiopians, it's about people from all over the world.

This is immigration. This is who we are. And we cannot grow without immigration. If we get this right, Candy, the 21st Century is ours. If we get it wrong, shame on us.

CROWLEY: And by ours, you mean Republicans.

GUTIERREZ: The country, that the Republicans should lead it.


CROWLEY: When we return, the politics of scandal with Jackie Calmes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Jerry Seib and CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


CROWLEY: Joining me from now from the New York Times Jackie Calmes, Jerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal and CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

I want to pick up on the exit, sort of, of General Petraeus, at least from the CIA. It is interesting to me that if you say publicly to senators or congressmen, oh, is this a big hit for the, you know, intelligence community, the military community, they say, no, it will be fine, but privately I have never heard such bipartisan sorrow for a man exiting the scene. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And isn't that something really to note? I mean, even we're still calling him General Petraeus. He left the military last year. He is Director Petraeus now resigned.

I think it's extremely odd that anyone would think in this country one government official, and that's what he was, is so powerful as to be such an intelligence loss. Nobody should be that powerful.

CROWLEY: And maybe it's more of a testament to his public relation skills.

JERRY SEIB, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Which are considerable. He is very good at that.

You know, the other thing is that he was a big role model for junior officers all through the U.S. military. He constructed the counterinsurgency theory that they've accepted as kind of like a gospel right now. And to have him go this way, leaving aside the intelligence community blow, I think the blow inside the Pentagon is considerable.

JACKIE CALMES, NEW YORK TIMES: And is it really the power that people think is gone now, or just what he -- the very intelligence he had gained about...

STARR: Well, I think it's a combination of his personal power and influence and the information intelligence that was in his head about Iraq, Afghanistan, al Qaeda, all of it.

But you know, while the younger troops may have seen hem as a role model, an awful a lot of his peers, Candy, thought he was a bit too big for his britches, a little too arrogant, a little too interested in his own image.

CROWLEY: That's interesting.

Just a wrap-up on this, there's this talk about, you know, being pushed. Let's have a Watergate-style investigation into Benghazi, into what happened in terms of the information that the CIA had, what it did or didn't say that became part of the talking points that were eliminated. What do you think?

SEIB: Well, you know, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, had an interesting answer when somebody said this week "should there be a blue ribbon commission to look at what happened in Benghazi?" He said no. Simple answer, no.

But I do think there is this question that people are going to keep raising, does the Petraeus resignation and the controversy over what happened in Benghazi, where there was a lot of CIA activity, are those two things related? That question is going to continue whether there's a blue ribbon commission or not. And eventually we'll probably get to the bottom of it.

CROWLEY: Right. Do you think a chance?

CALMES: You know I thought it had started to die down after the election, which seemed to give weight to the argument that this was just all pre-election politically driven investigation, but it's picked up again. In part because, as Jerry said, it's tied to the Petraeus, that when Petraeus, when that became a scandal, it -- there was this linkage made between that and the Benghazi violence.

STARR: Can I just say something really quick here, what -- I think there's a much deeper issue. What if this is the new al Qaeda? In other words, you have these al Qaeda groups that can respond very quickly, mount attacks relative tragic but relatively small attacks that the U.S. has no visibility on and cannot respond top quickly. What if -- and, yet, it's grabbed our national attention for two months or so. What if this is the new al Qaeda?

Maybe that's the issue here, which is understanding what they're up to and how this government and this military needs to learn to respond to it. CROWLEY: Well, because the question that now -- two questions now seem to be surfacing from Capitol Hill. One is what about security? Was there enough security? It was, after all, let's just start with the fact that it was 9/11, and the other one is why over the course of the seven hours couldn't you scramble somebody, some group that, you know, Northern Africa from someplace to get in there and help?

STARR: Because you don't have in this -- today's reality you really honestly don't have troops everywhere. You don't have intelligence capabilities everywhere, and if a small group of determined extremists is going to mount an attack, your armored division back in Texas or North Carolina won't do you much good.

SEIB: And an attack you couldn't possibly have planned for it.

STARR: Exactly. So intelligence needs to get a lot better.

CROWLEY: Fiscal cliff, one of my favorite subjects.

So, I just finished talking to Congressman Price and Senator Durbin, and I thought well this, I'm having flashbacks here. Despite all this, oh, it's a new day and we're all going to get along, do you see signs of a deal coming together?

SEIB: Well, I mean, this is a fascinating conversation. You know, everybody says this week, right, well we're going to get together and we're going to do this. We're not going to wait until the last minute this time. It will be fine.

But there's this elephant in the room, which is that the president says that there will be no deal unless tax rates on the top wealthiest people in the country go up. And Republicans say we are not going to do that.

How do you resolve that? I mean, that's a fact.

CROWLEY: How do you resolve that? CALMES: You can resolve it by splitting it down the middle. But the goal here, at least for the president, is to get $1 trillion in revenues, roughly, over ten years just -- he would like more, but just from that piece of taxing more on the wealthiest Americans. And I think there definitely is reason to be more optimistic now. Any of us who have lived through the prior budget talks, like in the summer of 2011, I mean, like just when they came out, they came out all four of them together, two Democrats, two Republicans, they addressed each other by their first names. They virtually promised a deal with the exception of Mitch McConnell, the senate Republican leader did not go that far.

But I think it's all -- you know, deals come together when it's in each side's mutual interest for a deal to come together. And I think each side here, certainly the president and the Democrats, but the Republicans too after their election losses. And they are -- you see -- they don't have a lot of leverage on this Bush tax rate.

SEIB: The favorite dance in Washington now is the two-step, I think, the idea of...

CALMES: Right.

SEIB: ... how you get around this is you have the two-step. You do a small down payment now and then you come back in six months, you set targets, and over the next six months you figure out how to solve the bigger problem. That part everybody seems to agree on.

CALMES: Right, this framework.

SEIB: But the first step in the two-step from the White House point of view is, again, raising the tax rates on the top 2 percent of tax-payers.

CROWLEY: And keeping them down for everybody else.

SEIB: Down for everybody else.

CROWLEY: Because they're trying to sort of separate that package. Let me ask you, it also seems that they are dealing with sequestration, that is, defense and nondiscretionary -- or discretionary funds cuts in a separate group of conversations.

In other words, they seem to be dealing with the revenue on one side and then the tax cuts. As you know, there are enormous defense cuts coming. Are there preparations in the Defense Department? Do they think this is going to happen? Have they been assured it's not going to happen?

STARR: Well, you know, Panetta, the defense secretary, has really been very public and doom, just, you know, Dr. Doom, this will be terrible. But if you drill down in the Pentagon, maybe a little planning, but, you know, I think they have their fingers crossed that there will be a deal here.

We're talking, you know, already $500 billion cuts on the table, sequestration brings you to another $500 billion. And as we...

CROWLEY: Over 10 years.

STARR: Over 10 years, right. Absolutely. And yet, you know, Congress, weapons are built in multiple states, multiple districts, this is all politics. All politics is local. These guys want to preserve jobs in their district. Will they really go that far? Panetta perhaps betting they won't.

CROWLEY: In some ways the defense part is probably the easiest.

CALMES: I think so. I mean, they'll just -- if they can get an agreement on a long-term framework, what Jerry was describing as the second step in the two-step process, they will feel like they've sent a signal to the financial markets about their intent to really get the fiscal house in order.

So you -- it will allow them to go ahead and like, you know, defuse this fiscal cliff, which is the combination of both the spending cuts that would happen automatically if there is not some deal, and all these various tax cuts that would take effect.

So I think -- but you -- to get to the second step you have to do the first step which is the short term, and that is what you do about the Bush tax cuts that expire on December 31st and whether you let them lapse for the richest Americans.

CROWLEY: And the same with the spending cuts, right.

Jerry, you have the last word here.

SEIB: Yes, absolutely.

CROWLEY: You've got to stop that from happening.

SEIB: You've got to stop that. And there's actually -- I think Jackie is right. There is more consensus on doing something to stop sort of mindless spending cuts than there is a consensus on what to do about taxes and tax increases.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much. We're going to get a temporary deal by the end of the year, do we all agree?

SEIB: I would still bet yes.

CALMES: I'll bet yes.

STARR: I bow to superior...


CROWLEY: Right. But it will...

SEIB: It might still ruin your Christmas. Just warning you of that.

CROWLEY: I have no doubt about that. I have no doubt about that. We're used to it, all of us.

CALMES: Don't make plans for New Year's Eve.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. We all know that Congress expands the amount of time it has. So I will see you Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve or something. Jackie Calmes, Jerry Seib... CALMES: It wouldn't be the first.

CROWLEY: ... Barbara Starr, thanks so much, all of you.

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, the TSA has a new list of no-nos. Sorry, cranberry sauce, you're on the no-fly list.


CROWLEY: And finally, planes, trains, and automobiles. AAA figures about 43 million people will travel this Thanksgiving. You know the drill, leave early, have patience. But for our flying friends, some extra advice from the TSA.


JOHN PISTOLE, TSA DIRECTOR: TSA will be fully staffed and prepared for the high volume of passengers this holiday season.


CROWLEY: Just over 3 million Americans will be taking off their shoes, emptying their pockets, and confining their toiletries to 3.4- ounce containers in a one-quart bag, generally trying to clear security without an enhanced pat-down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. Have a good day.


CROWLEY: Which brings us to this. Seasonal rules for carry-ons handed out recently to passengers at an airport near you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, I'm sorry that you can't take cranberry sauce but I noticed they spelled "turkey gravy" wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just looks funny, it has looked a little childish, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it serious or is it supposed to be a joke?


CROWLEY: They don't care if you're going to grandma's house at the TSA. You may not carry on cranberry sauce, gravy, or apple cider. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The apple cider would be something I would want to bring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I'm not the biggest fan of cranberry sauce, but I do like apple cider.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the beverage for the season.


CROWLEY: You can put the cranberry sauce and the gravy in your checked bag, though that's not something we would recommend.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I, myself, would have tried to pack any of these things.


CROWLEY: Cheer up. There's plenty of holiday spirit you can still carry on. A pumpkin pie is fine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love pumpkin pie but I think I'll make it at home. It could get squished.


CROWLEY: So is mincemeat pie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like it so I wouldn't have it anyway.


CROWLEY: Cornbread stuffing, TSA says you can carry that on too. Also, and remember, we are passing this along, not making this up, feel free to bring a turkey leg aboard. That is OK by TSA.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The turkey leg, I mean, we wouldn't leave home without a turkey leg on you, right?



CROWLEY: For clarity's sake, you may not, as we read this card, carry on a whole turkey, but a turkey leg? Fine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the bones aren't sharp, you should be good to go, right?


CROWLEY: That's how we read it, anyway.

Whether you are flying across the country with a turkey leg or just walking into the dining room to get one, we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving. As is true every Sunday, we are thankful for you.

I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Next week we'll have a Thanksgiving special. We'll talk with four retiring members of Congress and ask them if they are thankful to be leaving. Head to for any analysis and extras. If you missed any part of today's show, find us on iTunes, just search "State of the Union."

"FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS" is next for our viewers here in the United States.